Update: My full Polar M430 in-depth review is now available here! Go over to check out how it fared after months of usage!
Today Polar announced their latest wearable, the M430. This unit follows in the footsteps of the popular M400 by adding in an optical heart rate sensor as well as a handful of other small (but desired) features. While this watch lineage has previously been somewhat running focused, it actually supports a number of sports – and is one of the few watches out there to enable the optical HR sensor while doing swimming.
I’ve had a beta unit for a short period of time, so just enough to get in a workout and play with some of the features to see how it handles. First though, I’ll talk about the specifics of what’s new (there are some interesting tidbits in there), and then we’ll head out for a run to see what the accuracy of both the GPS and optical HR looks like.
Note that the unboxing ceremony will have to wait till a final release in May, since this just came in a plain mini Ziploc bag that said ‘DC Rainmaker” on it. Would have made for a short unboxing video.
But fear not – there is still a video to be had! I put together this overview video, which includes everything you need to know about the M430, along with some first run details:
Didn’t want to watch the video? No worries, we’ll continue on with text and photos.
The Tech Details:
As noted at the start, the goal of the M430 was to take the M400 and slightly modernize it. Part of that was, of course, adding the optical HR sensor, but there’s also a lot of smaller tweaks that have been made based on feedback to the M400. And in fairness to the M400, it’s received a boatload of firmware updates and new features since it was launched. For example things like smartphone notifications, better activity/sleep tracking, and so on. It definitely wasn’t an ignored product since its launch three years ago this summer.
Still, there are differences, many of them hardware focused. Here’s the line-up of changes compared to the M400:
Added optical HR sensor: Polar believes this 6-LED sensor is their most accurate to date
Added vibration capability (alerts): This does however replace audio alerts, which go away
Slightly increased battery: Mostly to maintain battery life with added optical HR sensor
Added new low-power GPS modes: These enable the unit to get up to 30 hours of GPS-on battery time
– High Accuracy Mode: 1-Second Recording Mode: Plots a GPS point every second, HR is every second too
– Medium Accuracy Recording Mode: Plots a GPS point every 30 seconds, HR is every second still
– Low Power Recording Mode: Plots a GPS point every 60 seconds, HR is every second still
Changed the wrist strap design: This was to improve optical HR accuracy by reducing weight and increasing tightness.
Added new watch faces: These can be changed in the menus to float your boat
Enabled Fitness Test with optical HR sensor: This is pretty rare in the industry
Added new sleep algorithms: This will give additional data in the Polar Flow app
Firmware Updates Available via Bluetooth Smart: This unit needs no desktop computer at all.
Added Stopwatch functionality: Pretty straightforward I think.
New connector: This new connector replaces the micro-USB used previously that was a support nightmare
Phew…there ya go! Now as you can kinda see, I’ve skipped over all the basics of most GPS smart watches these days. So yes, it does smartphone notifications (from any app, not just limited to texts), and yet it does activity and sleep tracking too. You’ll get all these details on the mobile app after syncing wirelessly:
I want to dive into a few things in a little more depth though, starting with the optical HR sensor. The sensor is used during workouts to capture your heart rate. Like many watches out there, it’ll enable the sensor once you select a sport mode and usually takes just a few seconds to ‘lock’ onto your heart rate:
Once in sport mode it’ll track and record your heart rate throughout the activity. However, outside of sport mode there isn’t any form of 24×7 HR recording like many other products in the marketplace today. This is definitely a bit of a gap compared to all of the competitive offerings, though Polar says it’s coming in Q3.
Polar does however have the option to go into a ‘My Heart Rate’ menu and check your heart rate. But this data isn’t recorded anywhere within the platform (app or web). It’s just a fart in the wind thing – it goes away as soon as you close the option.
You’ll have noticed that new wrist band. It’s got some slight tweaks for two reasons. First is that by introducing the holes in it, they’ve reduced the weight over the previous band, which was kinda heavy. That helps with optical HR sensor accuracy since less weight means less bounce of the watch. And second, the band material is much more ‘stretchy’ than previous, allowing you to get a snugger fit – which also increases accuracy by minimizing outside light getting into the sensor.
The next notable feature is that new lower-power GPS mode, which can extend the GPS-on battery life to 30 hours. This is pretty unusual to see in a mid-range or budget GPS watch, with these sorts of modes generally saved for much more expensive units (i.e. $400+). Albeit, we did see one with TomTom’s new Adventurer watch last year.
And just to be clear, when we say ‘GPS-on battery life to 30 hours’, that’s very different than the standby regular watch mode which is weeks (20 days to be precise). The way this new extended GPS mode works is by selecting one of three GPS options within any given sport. Since it’s sport-specific, it allows you to potentially have something like hiking have a much reduced GPS recording interval. Polar notes that there isn’t a huge difference in battery life between the every 30-second and every 60-second option. Also, in all options the optical HR sensor is recording constantly.
A much needed change was to swap out that charging/sync port on the back. Polar certainly had good intentions with the standard micro-USB connector on the M400, but it became the bane of their existence. Over time corrosion occurred, as did other failures. Polar redesigned the port situation at least twice, and even settled on removing the port cap altogether. While companies have used internally waterproof micro and mini-USB ports for years in sport devices, most of the time that was something like a bike computer which rarely went fully underwater (or more importantly in salt water or with lots of sweat in the port). Whereas the M400 was subject to all of that. So that’s all been resolved on the M430 with this new port design, which is waterproof to 30-meters:
The design looks very similar to that of the Fitbit Surge GPS. And remember I’m the last person to want a proprietary port in anything, but watches are really the best place for non-standardization to occur. No matter how many promises USB port component companies/manufacturers try to make when selling these pieces to watch makers, they all end up sucking. The micro-USB/mini-USB/etc port just wasn’t designed to deal with water getting in there and sitting there causing corrosion.
Speaking of water activities and swimming, as noted earlier the optical HR on the M430 can indeed be enabled during a pool or ocean swim. Keep in mind though that neither will give swim distance. Instead, it’s just your heart rate and time during that activity. Just like the M430 doesn’t have a multisport mode either, so it’s not a triathlon watch nor a replacement for the V800 (which does have that mode).
And while you can use the new Polar H10 HR strap with it, it doesn’t have support for the analog heart rate signal from a strap underwater, nor the ability to transfer stored/recorded activities from the Polar H10. For that, you’d need to use the Polar Beat app on your mobile phone.
As noted earlier this unit can do all firmware updates via Bluetooth Smart. Previously with the M400 you had to connect to your computer to get those updates. The only thing that you’d ever need a desktop browser for is if you wanted to setup training plans. The web-page for that is a bit wonky on a mobile app, so you’d want to do that on a desktop computer (anywhere), and then you can use the Polar Flow mobile app to sync those as normal. So if one lacked a desktop computer at home but had a desktop browser at work, that’s more than sufficient to choose the training plan you want.
And training plans is a big differentiator when it comes to the Polar M400/M430 compared to other watches in this price range. Most other sub-$250 watches don’t have structured workouts and training plans on them. Whereas the Polar M430 does. That means that you can not only find a structured training plan leading up to a certain event, but you can then download all of the workouts to your watch where it’ll guide you through each workout step by step.
Most other sub-$250 watches simply have a basic interval mode (if that), and that’s it. Additionally, most other sub-$250 watches don’t enable a lot of customization of the data fields, whereas the M430 gives significant customization of data pages and fields, allowing you to tweak it however you’d like via either mobile app or desktop app:
And finally, most other sub-$250 watches don’t give much feedback to you when it comes to the post-workout summaries. Most will just give you the stats (i.e. distance/time/etc…), whereas the M430 will actually give you a fair bit more related to how that specific workout benefited you. That’s something that’s always been a bit of Polar’s focus area, and it continues here as well:
With all that background, let’s head out for a bit of a run.
A First Run:
Ok, with everything all covered I decided to knock out a short 5K run. I often use this particular route for initial runs with watches, since it’s got a bit of everything. Some open areas, some tree coverage, some taller buildings, a lot of weaving, a few bridges…all good things to spot GPS accuracy on. Also, I tend to vary the pace a fair bit to see how the optical HR responds.
Getting the run started up was pretty quick and easy. Despite being in beta and not yet having assisted GPS enabled, it found GPS signal in a few seconds. And about 10-15 seconds later it locked onto my heart rate.
Oh, and sorry for the fuzzy photos – I sometimes forget the focal length on the action cams isn’t quite as close as I want it to be.
Next, I headed out for a short warm-up before eventually doing a couple of harder sprints. The HR and instant pace appeared to track pretty well. I was comparing it against three other HR sensors and GPS units.
On the pace side, I recorded some video that you’ll see within the hour as well – so check back for that!
I could change data fields as expected by pressing the up/down buttons, which iterates through my data fields. For example, in the above photo I’ve got my HR shown with the HR zone (and time of run). While below I’ve got my instant pace up top, average pace in the middle, and distance down below.
After wrapping up the run, I gathered up the data from all four units and plopped it into the DCR Analyzer to see how things looked. You can look at the link here. First up is the GPS side of things. The M430 uses a SIRF GPS chipset, which is a bit different than the M400. Though, it doesn’t have GLONASS.
At a high level, things did quite well. Note that at times I had placed both the Fenix3 and FR935 on my Spibelt (a waist belt), since I was primarily using them to capture HR data from straps, not GPS data. Thus things could be slightly impacted on GPS for those units.
If we zoom in on some of the corners, all the units track very closely – which is solid.
In particular this bridge section, where the Polar M430 was actually the most correct (in the upper right corner) on where I went:
So nothing sticks out at first on a basic GPS run. But again, this is just one run, and a fairly short one at that. Still, it’s a good starting point.
Next, we’ve got the HR side of things. In this case, I had some wonkiness on both the TICKR HR strap and the Scosche in the first few minutes. I ended up licking the HR strap and that immediately solved that, and then I moved the Scosche a tiny bit and that solved that. Not sure what was up there.
In any event, beyond that, all the units actually matched really well for the remainder of the run for the most part. I see one oddity again later on during a bit of a harder interval I did with the Scosche when I was filming (which can impact things), but nothing significant. And the Polar M430 tracked well across the stops and starts too – something I did a few times within the run for exactly this purpose. Actually, all the units tracked those starts and stops well. And note, the above data is *not* smoothed, it’s straight 1-second recording.
Oh – and while the above charts are from the DCR Analyzer, you can certainly view the run on Polar Flow as well:
The run will automatically sync via Bluetooth Smart when you open the app up, or you can just plug it in via USB to your computer.
And finally – keep in mind that the above GPS/HR data is beta data on the M430. Thus, you might see some things they’re still working on (especially around HR). But for being a month out, it’s not too shabby.
(Note: All of the accuracy related charts were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)
Overall this is a nice, but fully expected, upgrade of the M400. It modernizes it in terms of baseline specs, though doesn’t really push the boundaries in any major way. The added long-battery life modes for GPS activities are pretty cool however, and definitely unique in the segment.
As always, we’ll have to see on both the optical HR sensor and GPS performance as it gets closer to final production firmware and hardware. And that’s fine; there’s plenty of time to do that. The current shipping timeframe for the M430 is in May, and I don’t see any reason that won’t be hit. Things are pretty close as it stands today for the beta unit I tried.
The only concern I have is really the pricing. At $229/€229, it’s in a bit of an odd spot. When Polar first released the M400 – they did so at a price that significantly undercut Garmin’s price for a mid-range watch. That’s the sole reason the M400 did as well as it did: It was incredible value for the money. It was originally priced at $179USD, but floats around $125 these days. At launch that was $80 less than Garmin’s competitor FR220 at the time. But now with the M430, they’re only $20 less than the Vivoactive HR, which has far more features (albeit not structured workouts), plus apps. That’s a tougher sell.
I think had they gone with $199, they’d be in a fairly solid position. That’d match the less-featured Garmin FR35 when not on sale, as well as the mixed-featured Fitbit Blaze. Not to mention upcoming Android Wear options like the Misfit Vapor priced at $200, or the very competitively priced TomTom Spark 3. I fear Polar may have forgotten what made the M400 popular: Its price.
Still – if you’re looking at mid-range running watches, and especially ones with structured training plans – there’s no better value in the ballpark than the M430 (or the M400 if you don’t care about optical). And Polar did do a good job at making precisely the updates that folks wanted to see in an M400 successor.
With that – stay tuned for a full in-depth review down the road. Thanks for reading!
Update: You can now pre-order the M430 from Clever Training. DCR readers get 10% off using DCR coupon code DCR10BTF. That helps support the site and makes you awesome (or more awesome, if you were already awesome).
It’s a pity that there is no changeable straps
“Firmware Updates Available via Bluetooth Smart: First Polar watch that needs no desktop computer at all”
I think the M600 was the first.
I thought you did if you were on iOS though…(pre-AW2, which was released in the last few days).
M600 was first. Nothing to do with AW 2.0
Hmm, interesting, I could have sworn on the M600 initially with iOS you had to do some setup/confirmation via computer. No worries though, good to know.
seems the a-gps is provided by sirf rather than u-blox, or whatever it was called on the m400. That can only be a good thing. Saying that, as it stands today, my m400 holds up well to my V800 most places apart from in the city. I’ll probably buy this, but may just hold out for the next triathlon watch.
You mentioned a word stretchy when you talked about the wrist strap. Have you tried the M400 in white color? It is more flexible and rubbery-feeling than the black version that you had on your M400 review. I was just thinking could the case be the same with M430: White differs from the other colors…If that is the case, those holes in the strap could make this new strap break more easily like they did on RS300X…
Hmm, not sure where my white strap is, but this strap is super-flexi. One of the most flexi straps I’ve seen on a watch.
Hi, looks like a good unit. How does this watch compare to the Garmin 235 in terms of running capabilities? Thanks.
I would also like to know this 🙂
My M400 is really slow to update running pace. So much so it is almost useless for interval training when you want to hit a specific pace (my old garmin with a foot pod was much better at this). Any idea if they’ve done anything to address this?
Sam, i think any device relying purely on gps for pace will be woefully inadequate on short intervals. I use Polar’s stride sensor which works well for short intervals say up-to 500m, any longer and gps does becomes acceptable if you set a lap distance of say half a mile.
have just ordered the much smaller and lighter milestone pod as this should now be supported by polar’s m400/v800 watches
YouTube just finished processing my video on it, which includes responsiveness in instant pace (both at-pace to stop, and at-pace stability): link to youtube.com
Rob is right. If you’re doing short intervals and you want your pace to be accurate, you should go to the track. GPS lacks the distance accuracy (nevermind the pace accuracy) necessary for short intervals. So do footpods, actually. Being off by a couple of seconds on a 400 is an eternity, and that’s the best a footpod can do. Just glance at your split times as you go through 200 meters, and you should get pretty good at hitting your paces with practice. That’s how elites do it.
GPS can be okay for longer intervals like mile repeats. Just use current lap average pace if you want help with those.
Some running paths have 1/4 or 1/2 markers if a track isn’t accessible
I have the same issue with the M400. When doing 200 metres intervals, it will complain for the first 100 metres that I’m going too slow. Whereas my Garmin 310xt almost immediately has the right pace measured.
And after the 200 metres interval complain that I’m going too fast for 50-70 metres. 😉
Maybe you have Heart rate zone based intervals? If not and you really have peace based intervals then there’s something wrong with your unit. Polars are dealing with tempo change immediately, way faster than Garmins
Be interested to hear whether the milestone pod works with V800 as a footpod and also records all the other metrics offline. Have you had a chance to test it yet with V800?
Just bought M400, I hope the developers will still support the firmware.
I wouldn’t stress, the fimware is pretty solid… now. You’re just lucky you didn’t buy one when it first came out, it took over a year before the M400 became a device I’d actually recommend to others. Now, no problems at all.
well, which is better watch tomtom runner 3 or M430 ?
Every time I see the Polar Flow site I remember just how good those HR graphs are with the colouring, and Polar’s data visualisation generally compared to Garmin (which sucks). Garmin show the same data but (to me) there is far less actionable information there. Nice to see Polar start updating their older devices, this seems a great addition and all the choices certainly reflect the Polar focus on actual training and getting better at sport or getting fitter. Garmin lack that focus and while they produce great devices for geeks like me, I can’t say hand on heart that they are as good as Polar when viewed as training tools.
I miss Polar, but will be sticking with Garmin sadly because I don’t need a training tool, I want a training toy 🙂
This is a nice looking watch, and the fact that Polar have been so impressive with their updates on the M400 would definitely be a factor in considering this as my next purchase.
Ray, can you see any reason why Garmin/Polar/Suunto aren’t incorporating wireless charging into their watches? The Apple Watch and a number of Android Wear watches have it included. Seems like it would solve the port issue.
That very question is on my short list for some in-person meetings with those companies over the coming days/weeks.
My guess would be added size, which is more important in a watch than a phone, and the slow speed of inductive charging, which is more significant in devices that people are increasingly expecting to wear 24/7.
My guess is if they include wireless charging they will have to remove the physical port. Which means any software update will have to install via bluetooth or WiFi. While the Apple watch has great wireless charging, it takes an eternity when the watchOS needs update (and you will have to keep it on the charger).
Does the 430 do run pace from foot pod with distance from the GPS? The existing Polar products don’t and it is a weakness, particularly as accelerometer tech in the pods is progressing so quickly…
As far as I’m aware. My m400/v800 pull pace from the stride sensor and distance from gps.
I sometimes think I’m the only one who never had any problems with the M400’s charging port. Years later, swimming, showers, and all, and mine is just fine. I dunno.
Anyway, seems like a nice, if minor, upgrade, the vibration alerts and stopwatch really being the only two new features I really would like — the lack of a stopwatch on the M400 always has puzzled me. I really wish they would produce versions of these newer watches without the optical HR, I’ve yet to see one that wasn’t horrifically inaccurate and laggy as hell in a gym environment. Even if they could solve the light-tight issue, there’s just no way around the lag issue when you’re measuring capillary pulse.
Yeah on the charging port, I suspect that if you shower after every workout – that likely solves it. Meaning most corrosion comes from salt water or salty water (aka sweat). Sometimes folks will use the watch during a workout, but then not take it into the shower. Over time, it’s what does it in.
As a general rule of thumb, I always shower with my watches afterwards.
I’m with you. My m400 is the one without the port cover. I wash it daily before showering, as this gives me the ability to also wash the strap.
I can’t think how gross those groves get for people who don’t wash their watches frequently. Yuck.
I’ve never taken my M400 into the shower. I don’t swim, so that’s out. I have the one with the cover over the port. I regularly wash the watch with an old toothbrush, soap and water, including the USB port. I will dry off the watch with a towel, then blow out the USB port with canned air.
The only times I have had problems with the port is when I haven’t cleaned it in a while, and I won’t be able sync. Giving it a good scrub always solves the problem.
Yes, the grooves in band can get kind of skanky if you don’t clean it. I try not to let it get that bad.
Akso likr to join the ‘never had a problem with the usb’ club.
Bought shortly after it was released. Swim, run, even windsurf witj it. Far from fastidious with any cleaning regime of the watch.
Never hsd any problems. Even the white strap and all is stil looking pretty white still.
I usually clean my watch with my wet towel after showering, that does the trick for me as much as keeping it clean is concerned.
Its best to cut the cover off. I had my M400 with the cover repaired on warranty and it came back with a new strap less the cover. It has worked much better without the cover. I guess that the problem is more to do with drying than with getting wet. I just rinse it after every run.
I had the charge port problem and I found the problem to be the cable and not the port. I got through two Polar cables before just using one from an ebook or something and its been good for years.
I’m probably not going to by this straight away, there’s not enough to warrant me ditching the M400, but when the 400 gives it’s last bleep and dies it’ll be the M430 I’ll buy.
It’ll probably be cheaper by then too.
Exactly….if you could have the Garmin hardware, but Polar’s software, it would be ideal.
Agree, flow over connect everyday
No basic navigation? Like bread crumb trail following? Would be awesome of it does! Don’t need all the bells and whistles of a fenix, or ambit, or…
Ray, display in M430 is the same as in M400?
Featurewise, I see any significant differences between M200 and M430 – do I miss something?
Only support of HR strap?
The display is the same – still 128x128px. But at least easily readable.
When you compare it to the M200, things like the display really stick out to me. The display on the M200 is kinda like an old calculator. 🙂
It supports HR straps via BLE, as well as running footpods.
I agree with Ray on the price point – If I am considering this watch for vs the M600 at $329 (especially as the latter gets closer to being a year old and starts getting discounted) – I’m probably going to opt for the M600. $150 or $180 might have been a better starting point.
I am still rocking a 3-year old original loop, and one of the things I like about it is he magentic charging/sync cable. They also have the same one on the M600, and I also believe it’s compatible with the V800 as well – so why wouldn’t polar keep using that connector? I don’t mind the proprietary connector, but at least be consistent.
To be fair, this particular connector should be a bit better than the magnetic one. It snaps in, like the Fitbit Surge and new Garmin connectors.
I’ve found the M600 for 260 € in Amazon. At this price, is it worth to wait for the M450? What are the pros and cons of choosing one or the other?
I guess it is a question of size/formfactor
Is there ‘tap to lap’ feature?
I’d be interested in knowing if Polar has stepped up and fixed some of the shortcomings of the m200 and Polar Flow with the m430. The fact that the m430 is released less than six months after the m200 suggests to me that it is a clean up effort on the m200 more than an updated m400.
– Does the sleep monitor allow for manual time to bed/get up or is it even close to predicting those now? It currently misses 2-3 hours per night in predicting bed time for me and often posts a ‘monitor not worn’ error in the middle of the night as if you woke up, took the monitor off and then put it back on while you were asleep.
– Can the data on m430 be downloaded and viewed on your desktop or phone without an internet connection to the Polar Flow site? If you are in a remote location without internet or if the Polar server is down, which happened recently, your recent data is locked on your wrist and your historical data is completely unavailable.
– Can the wrist straps be changed? Or is it an admission that those on the m200 are already stretching out after a couple of months of use and were a bad idea.
– How tight does the m430 have to be tightened to get a reliable heart rate? I’ve found that I have to really tighten the m200 to get a steady accurate reading.
– You’ve mentioned that sports profiles are best set with a desktop. I agree. But I’ve also found that my m200 regularly ‘forgets’ some of the settings on some profiles and I have to resync it each time. Specifically, I really don’t need gps on indoor workouts Polar.
– Have weekly totals in Polar Flow been fixed yet? This is more about the software than watch, but without the software, the watch is affected. I regularly find a different total for calories burned on the week view and month view despite this being a sum of the same seven daily numbers. I’ve also found that if you enter a workout manually in Flow it doesn’t show up in your weekly calorie totals for some reason.
I acknowledge that it appears I am being very critical of Polar right out of the gate on the new m430. However, there is nothing above that I didn’t send to Polar first about the m200 and the Flow software they either denied or dismissed in responding to me.
I can open android Polar Flow app on mobile with no data connection.
M200 is a totally different watch than the M400 or M430
I have the M400, but it generally sits on the shelf after I picked up the Suunto Ambit 2S. Syncing with my phone worked less than half the time (admittedly this is probably more of an Android problem). And, I do some hiking & backpacking and with the M400, but I can’t setup a point to navigate to, or even view my current position in units other than longitude & latitude (which I find ironic given the watch’s origin is European). The one feature I miss from the M400 is the inactivity alerts.
As an Android/M400 user, I hear your sync pain. This workaround works for me. First, sync your activity in airplane mode. Flow will ask if it can turn Bluetooth on, say yes. After you can see the doughnut graph update on Flow, get out of airplane mode and keep Flow open. Ta-da!
No USB issues in 2+ years…
Thankfully it seems to target the quickly disappearing group of “serious” runners which in general couldnt care less of the great majority of the gymmicks that have been thrown out there as of late, and which generally tend not to make one a faster runner….
A UK age group top guy i know (he is 53 and he just ran a 16’30” 5k) is still running with a 1980 style Casio….
Does this attach to the H7? Will a T31coded 5ghz heart rate transmitter work with it in the water?
H7 yes for Bluetooth 2.4ghz , no for 5ghz
Attach to H7: Yes (Only Bluetooth Smart (2.4 GHz) NOT 5kHz )
Attach to T31: NO
Attach to H10: Yes (Only Bluetooth Smart (2.4 GHz) NOT 5kHz )
5kHz is needed for realtime underwater, the M430 doesn’t have this receiver.
Quote from Ray (from the main post)
And while you can use the new Polar H10 HR strap with it, it doesn’t have support for the analog heart (=5kHz) rate signal from a strap underwater, nor the ability to transfer stored/recorded activities from the Polar H10. For that, you’d need to use the Polar Beat app on your mobile phone.
Thanks a lot for the great review, Ray!
Did you have time to test the optical heart rate sensor underwater for swimming? Would be a huge addition to the watch if it works reliably!
No, not yet unfortunately.
Can you also test M430’s GPS in open water swimming?
no distance measures underwater? neither in pool or openwater… it’s a joke!!!
It’s a running watch…
Funny, a cheap watch that performs just as well as the other more expensive watches. Glad to see that this times the Suunto Spartan Wrist HR behaves well.
You mentioned 24/7 heart rate monitoring might be coming to Polar devices in Q3? Is this a for sure thing? This is what has held me back from getting Polar devices instead of Garmin.
In my experience if Polar says it will happen, it will, just never on the initially forecasted time.
Agreed. While people have given accolades to Polar for keeping the M400 continually updated, in reality, it just appears that way because it takes them so long to release firmware updates. They announced in January 2015 that they would introduce wrist based cadence and measurement units to the M400. It took them a year until Jan 2016 to release the cadenence measurement and then another year until Jan 2017 before the speed based measurements were done.
We should wait till the product is released with all features promised. Buying right away only emboldens companies like Polar who take FOREVER to do even simple things e.g. Strava integration.
I would tweak that slightly:
Purchase a product based on whether or not it has the features you want today, not based on future promises. While some companies are good with promises…others less so (either through delays or just not doing it).
Inductive/wireless charging is great but it is inefficient transfer of power and does heat batteries during the process. Hot batteries and durability longevity don’t go together
well with non removable batteries unfortunately.
I have the A300 which luckily still works with the T31coded strap (and probably the new H10) in the pool. Old school, I like to see my heart rate while I swim. So the lack of this feature here is a disappointment.
The standard USB charging of the A300 is really very good. It lasts for weeks, can be plugged in anywhere. And the male end on the watch has no issues with water. I wonder why they didn’t use that for the M430?
Seems so easy to add the 5ghz into the product, and one wonders why they didn’t.
As owner of Garmin swim and Polar m400 I was hoping for good outdoor and indoor swimming features with heartrate. Unfortunately not in this watch.
Does it have music control?
As you said, seems like all the tweaks/improvements over the M400 make sense. However after three years, would have hoped it moved the needle more. Would have liked to see a music player included. Polar just sent me a refurbished M400 in February to replace my unit that had a failing battery so no hurry to buy the M430.
From my experience your criticism of the use of standard USB port in sports watch is exaggerated.
I use my Polar M400 with micro USB daily for about 2 years now. I bike every day with it, swim 3 times a week, run, play tennis. I charge it at night everyday or every 2 days, depending on how much GPS enabled sport profiles I use. Micro USB is working flawless, the only issue for me is that connecting a cable requires precision that is hard for me late at night.
In fact I would even say I am really suprised how durable micro USB connection in M400 has proved in my unit as well as the whole unit. My friends Garmins have failed long time ago 😉
One only needs to read the comments of the M400 to see the reality of the situation. Or…just ask Polar themselves. They’d agree. 😉
I think it’s a YMMV situation. The batch of ports in your particular M400; how much you sweat; how salty your sweat is; how diligent you are about keeping the port clean and dried before connecting, etc. I sent my unit in twice for repair. In the same time my wife’s M400 has had no issues.
Well, I’m just saying that in my case, I prefer standard USB so I don’t have to worry about some custom plug cable being eaten by my dog and just use some phone charger when in need… And I have never washed my unit, swimming and showering in it seems to be enough.
Nice upgrade on everything but the price. The vivoactive HR is actually cheaper than this and has a barometric altimeter and apps, I suspect market forces will cause the price of this to drop within a few months.
Does it broadcast heart rate eia BLE as a strap would do to use with e.g. a bike computer like m450?
I’m also wondering about HR broadcast. Would be disappointing if it didn’t, especially as the Vivoactive does.
I asked Polar and they said it doesn’t. That’s a big miss for me and a step towards the Vivoactive HR.
thx for the review, good work as always!
but i have a question regarding the Fitness Test… i remember there are several diffrent versions on multiple devices from Polar. For example, if i remember correctly the m400 involves only sitting on the couch whereas the V800 lets you sit/stand and measures the impact on your hr. Which version is implemented in the m430?
and how strong is the vibration alarm? can you set a lvl of vibration like the m400 has a setting for volume?
btw, did you notice that polar updated the look of the graphs in flow? To my suprise they are still busy implementing and changing functions in flow (the good way, didnt see something that went bad in the last 4 months)
Hi. The is no orthostatic test on the M430, only the Polar Fitness Test (the Couch test)
Thx! i couldnt remember the name… well the couch test is pretty useless. But hey marketing 😀 maybe i will upgrade to the m430… it bothers me that i cant sync the m400 with my phone.
Just curious why not have the in depth reviews of the Tom Tom Spark 3 and the Tom Tom Adventurer that are already available to purchase before reviewing these that are not available yet?
That’s a really good question, glad you asked. 🙂
It’s actually simple: This isn’t a review. Rather, it’s just a first look/hands-on post. I know some media outlets might try and pass this off as a review, but I don’t.
You can find my similarly sized post here for the TomTom Spark 3 and Adventurer: link to dcrainmaker.com
That was also done on launch day, based on minimal time with a watch. Oddly enough, in the TomTom case, I actually have tons of runs/rides with it since…though, I just need to get my review written. 🙁
Then you might ask – why is it that two recent legit reviews came out on the day of announcement: The Wahoo BOLT and the Garmin FR935?
Easy: They got me units 3-4 weeks in advance…*AND*…they planned to ship on/about announcement day.
Neither Polar or TomTom have achieved that threshold with these products. And that’s really what it comes down to. If a company is able to get me products 3-4 weeks out (two in a worst case scenario for GPS, maybe a week for a simple fitness/activity tracker), I can get a legit review done on release day. But if I don’t get a unit till the day before, or if the unit isn’t expected to ship for another month or so – then I won’t do an in-depth review.
Once that happens, then that product is at the mercy of everything else competing for time, namely, new announcements. For example, my review post on the Xplova X5 unit took a backseat this week to getting this very Polar M430 ‘first look’ post out. The M430 was time sensitive, the X5 was not.
Hope that helps!
One info I miss is if the m430 has a barometric altimeter or only through GPS
For trail activities, my V800 is excellent in that respect
No baro altimeter.
Polar says 24×7 hbm would be available in Q3. I believe it would also involve accommodating this feature in the Flow. What I want to see is, with their Sleep Plus, Polar would be able to automatically detect and record the resting heart rate and then show the weekly/monthly trend. Ray, would you be able to get more insights on this from Polar?
Yeah, Polar is holding off on releasing more details on their sleep things until later this year. :-/
Hi Sheh, do you have a link to that info about 24/7 hr? Would be interested to read about it. I remember that there was a “Sleep Analysis” tab in one of the screenshots when Ray reviewed the Polar Balance scale, but nothing was ever released for it.
link to media.dcrainmaker.com
Adam, I’m sorry, in regards to 24/7 hb availability in Q3, I’m just quoting what Ray has written in his above review on the beta unit. I believe there are many requests out there to be able to track resting heart rate with ease and see the trending in Flow once we synced our data. We can then see our training activity versus sleep versus resting heart rate and then see how all of these affect our performance on any particular day. Of course there are other factors too that would affect our performance but still there would be some decent data from Polar to start with. Come on, Polar, bring more excitement, please.
Most adults need eight hours of sleep, but sleep needs vary from person to person. It is recommended that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Your sleep needs are affected by several factors like individual characteristics, training load, mental stress, body’s condition and possible sleep debt.
Polar Sleep Plus automatically detects the timing, amount, and quality of your sleep based on your wrist movements.
•Sleep time shows the total time between when you fell asleep and when you wake up.
•Actual sleep shows how much of your sleep time was actually spent asleep.
•Interruptions show you how much time you spent awake during the night.
•Sleep continuity tells you how continuous your sleep was on a scale of 1-5, where 5 reflects uninterrupted sleep. The lower the value the more fragmented your sleep was.
You can set your preferred sleep time to define how long you aim to sleep every night. You can also rate your sleep. You’ll receive feedback on how you slept based on your sleep data, your preferred sleep time and your sleep rating.
Monitor your long-term sleeping patterns in Polar Flow. By following your sleep patterns you can see if they’re affected by any changes in your daily life and find the right balance of rest, daily activity and training.
Too bad they didn’t add 24/7 HR tracking, I would love it even more with that even with reduced battery life then.
But really like that they added vibration alerts (running with music and checking your alerts all the time is a drag!)
One to watch when my current M400 dies but hoping for yet another one with also all day tracking
Just checked the Polar website (AU) which states:
“Polar M430 is a GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate, advanced training features and 24/7 activity tracking — a top-level watch for runners who want more.”
So looks like they might launch with 24/7 activity tracking available?!
As an ex-M400 owner (sold it while it was still popular and in good condition), I’m very keen to get my hands on the M430 and all it’s improvements.
Thanks DCR keep up the great work!
It is launching with 24/7 activity tracking (steps/distance), but not heart rate.
Ok thanks for clarifying.. will keep an eye on how this feature operates upon release.
Great review again! Have you compared the total distance with your 5K runs. I have M400 and I am curious to know how accurate it is. Seems that the only remarkable difference is the wrist HR measurement so I will wait for the upgrade of V800.
Ray, thanks as always for your insights. Was holding out for the next gen of polar devices so this could be great. Any news on a V800 successor? Or does this have more than just the fitness test? That would mean I hang on a bit longer. Cheers
No, I don’t expect anything near or medium term.
You should soon see a new gadget targeting cycling do?
Just as a quick update, Clever Training now has listings for the M430, for those that want to pre-order it. Delivery planned for May, and based on me chatting with Polar today in-person, that appears on track.
You can pre-order here link to clevertraining.com and then don’t forget to use the DCR coupon code DCR10BTF to save 10%. All of which supports the site here, I appreciate it!
Hi Ray. Any changes with the display of text /app notifications on the M430? Vibration alerts are a big step in the right direction but can you read the whole message on the watch? I find it so frustrating that I know I have a message and I know who from but I can’t see more than the first few words on my M400.
At present the same, just the truncated version. Perhaps something will change by release.
Wearing a V800( >1.5 j) , the same layout/display, I find it worse that there are no icons for missed calls or messages .
There is a BT(lost connection), alarm set, night mode, airplane icon, but no missed events of any kind.
Also no auto-backlite on a message for a few seconds.
That could all be done in software…easy 😉
With the Sport Profiles, do you think it would be a good choice for a gym rat too?
Thnx for keeping us informed 🙂
Use my m400 in the gym. One of the things i really like is the custom displays. So if you want to time intervals inbetween sets or reps it is super easy to have hr and and lap time as the display for instance.
Also with all the profiles you could have different ones for legs days, chest days etc, if you wanted to split them out.
They have stacks of profiles so ‘Strength’ for arms. ‘Core’ for core and the maybe use ‘Finnish Baseball’ as the legs session. Plus now there are loads of LES MILLS profiles what ever they are. A dozen or more.
How strong are vibration alerts in comparison to V800? In V800 they’re too weak but together with beeps they’re recognizable.
Can you confirm that M430 is mute, i.e. does not have a beeper at all?
The feel relatively similar to me.
And yes, the beeper/audio alerts are totally removed on the M430. It was the tradeoff they made for the vibration motor.
Does M430 provide different modes of vibration so you could know whether to speed up or slow down as M400 does with different beeps?
I have asked Polar and they said you cannot distinguish by mode of vibration coz they are all the same for pace/ heart rate zone lock alert. but they said M430 /M 400have audio alert( yet, same mode)
glad to heard M400 have different tone.
hope to heard more consistance answer from polar in here. Coz I also want to have different pattern of alert when I am runner too slow and or heart rate too high
Hello K H C Con,
DC Rainmaker mentioned that the audio alert is removed from M430. Did you contact the customer service of Polar? If they still provide the audio alert, I may consider to buy one as the HR strap does cause some abrasion issue.
May be I get them( polar CS ) wrong, thats why want to clearify here. See if any guy from Polar can answer
Would it be possible to update the initial M430 with the 24/7 HR in Q3 by a simple software update or is the 24/7 only available in the new devices from Q3?
Simple software update.
Tnx for the hands on. Seems like a nice upgrade for my M400 which I like very much.
On the watch faces Ray, the one with the circular progress bar. What does the number under the date mean? (I think it’s 11) Is it the number of steps ?
Is there a watch face with number of steps or calories?
If you’re referring to the initial image at the top of the page, then what you are looking at is the time in a 24 hour format. In this circumstance, the time is 5:44 pm.
There is no watch face for the M430 that displays steps or calories. – Mike@PolarUSA
Mike, I think David is referring to the video at time 3min 11secs. The watch face has a circle around the outside which I’m guessing represents the amount of activity??? A bit like the M200??? Has this replaced the one M400 watch face with the bar that shows activity? I have that one set as my default so I’ll be interested in having a replacement that shows activity. Is it the only one showing your % activity for the day?
There are 2 watch faces that show activity achieved. The one you are referring to (with the circle around the time) is indeed one of them. There is another (that is ironically that initial image at the top of the page) that displays it as well. For that watch face, the time displayed is shaded differently relative to the amount of activity recorded – Mike@PolarUSA
Tnx for the clarification Mike.
Would it be possible to have a watch face that goes further as 100% with regards to activity. Cuz now @ 100% its full, but beyond 100% you have no visual difference on the watch face … no indication on 125, 150, 200% …
A watchface with the number of steps would also be nice 😉
Any through of below? thx
May 3, 2017
Does M430 provide different modes of vibration so you could know whether to speed up or slow down as M400 does with different beeps?
K H C Bon
May 3, 2017
I have asked Polar and they said you cannot distinguish by mode of vibration coz they are all the same for pace/ heart rate zone lock alert. but they said M430 /M 400have audio alert( yet, same mode)
glad to heard M400 have different tone.
hope to heard more consistance answer from polar in here. Coz I also want to have different pattern of alert when I am runner too slow and or heart rate too high
Is it possible to charge the M430 while continuing to track the activity or does it halt the activity a la the Garmin 920XT?
How does crossfit training work?
Good readings or mistakes like tom tom and mio link.
Based on experience, any wrist based optical HRs are be horrible for things like CrossFit because of the movements. You’d be better off using the new Polar H10 for a CrossFit workout, then sync to Polar Beat afterwards as it can record a workout without your phone/tracker. You could still use the M430 for all day tracking and steady state / running type activities.
Hi Ray and others
Thank you for an other useful review
I have been testing a lot of optical heart rate monitors over time including the Polar M430 and to me they usually work fine while resting or at low intensities, but as soon as the intensity goes up, they seem to fail and calculate the hear rate 15-20 beats above the actual heart rate (measured via heart rate strap).
Have you had similar problems? I have an feeling that it has to do with cold weater (i live in demnark som the last 6 months have been cold). The optical sensors seem to work better under warm conditions (I do wear them tight and directly on the skin).
Hi, i also use tom tom and garmin hr optical hr watches, all off them lies after 3d pulse zone, i think that they are good just for morning pulse test or for running in first two pulse zones.
Maybe change how you wear the watch? See if this helps:
link to dcrainmaker.com
Do the smart notifications come thru DURING activity or only phone calls? This is one thing I do not care for about the m400/v800.
Called Polar, same as M400, notifications only during non activity.
Just curious -Anyone else having trouble finding Polar products in stores? Tried 2 Best Buy’s today and they no longer have them in-store My Target got rid of Polar & Dicks barely had inventory
Last time I was there. Garmin & Fitbit however have large prominent displays everywhere.
Yes i think we have the same thing happening in the UK. No sign of the new stuff (M430 or M460) in the channels, and getting hold of M400 or M450 without the bundled HR strap is tricky.
I can not find bracelet polar m400
All Polar products were removed from our local Best Buys in the US. You can still purchase online, but it’s quite sad that you can’t go directly into a store to purchase.
In terms of running pace zone lock, whats the differences between M400, M430 and V800? thx
HI all- I had a Peak (loved biometrics/sleep patterns) & are looking for a replacement. I do cardio classes, weights, elyptical, indoor cycle, walking/hiking & watch my sleep patterns. I push HR to 175 during gym & so need reliable HR. Still have my old F11 (hate chest straps). I can’t decide between polar m430 or vivoactive HR. What would u recommend?
Does the m430 still connect with other Polar HR bands besides the H10 (like the H7 Bluetooth that comes with the m400)? I really like the idea of losing the chest strap and using the optical, but in the winter when I’m wearing long sleeves/jackets, I usually place my watch over my sleeve, which obviously then loses the optical capabilities. Will it also still connect with the Bluetooth stride sensor? I appreciate Polar’s attempt to add the internal wrist-based accelerometer, but as a slower, back of the pack runner, I have yet to find an accelerometer that accurately reads my pace (they always tell me I’m running much faster than I am), so I tend to still use my footpod with my m400 for treadmill runs.
The M430 will work with other brands that manufacturer Bluetooth Smart HR sensors. It will also work with the stride sensor as well. – Mike@PolarUSA
Thanks, Mike! That’s helpful! Now if only Polar made this watch with audio alerts as well as vibration alerts, it would be my perfect watch! Polar seems to be elusive about the actual release date in the US (and the one thing Polar doesn’t do well is respond to customer service communications). Any idea when it will be?
On your Polar M430 review you said – “However, outside of sport mode there isn’t any form of 24×7 HR recording like many other products in the marketplace today. ”
I checked the Polar website and features and it says –
“Tracks your daily activity at five intensity levels for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides a complete picture of all of your activity. It counts your active time, daily burnt calories, steps, distance from steps and sleep.
It’s based on the analyses of the frequency, intensity and regularity of your movements together with your physical information.”
I am confused. Can you reconcile these two statements?
In their list, you’ll notice it lacks ‘heart rate’ – meaning, they don’t record 24×7 HR, just 24×7 steps and other pieces.
Hi, thanks for your long test.
You look very positif about the watch but I read lot of bad reviews on the optical sensor of the m600 (wich is the same).
Today I found another video: link to youtube.com
and there are the same complains about the optical sensor…
I’m a little bit lost because on your test It looks pretty accurate and others tell the opposite :/
In the end, If you have to wear a strap to get accurate heart rates, I’ll go with the m400 wich is the best value for the money imo
In my case, it was just a single test run. Sometimes it works out, sometimes not. A more detailed review down the road will cover more test runs/bikes/etc, giving folks more data to work from.
One thing to keep in mind is that he (like I) was using a beta unit, which may have differences to production.
Talking about the HR-strap;
Will it be possible to use a H7-strap with the M430 and turn off the optical HR sensor?
I know that a number of Garmin watches can be configured so that the optical HR is turned off to save battery in long runs.
Yes, you can.
It supports GPS tracking in open water swim?
Polar A370 launched today, and comes with continuous HR measurement. M460 includes updated HR sensor, anyway good news for us waiting for 24/7 HR on the 460 unit.
Error; 24/7 on M430, not the 460′. Not sure all of us bring the cycling computer to bed
I tried the M400 and liked the features very much, BUT there was a lot of trouble with the pairing with my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (I lost the pairing up to 2 times a day!!). Do you know anything about the M430:s ability to connect to a Samsung phone and keep the connection (bluetooth)? The Polar support said it was trouble with my phone, but I tried 2 different Polar watches and they behaved differently (bad and very bad 😉 so I doubt that my phone is the only reason for my “pairing troubles”
I don’t have any connection or pairing issue with M400, but recently I often encounter the same weird sync issue. Whenever I try to sync the training result with my iphone, the result on M400 will disappear and no record is synced. So I have stopped syncing through phone.Instead, just plug M400 to my computer and the sync issue is gone.
Hope that helps.
The M400 recently upgraded to give a estimated running distance on a treadmill. It instantly returned my faithful sports watch into a lying SOB. It might be good for the ego with the bigger estimates of distance covered, and the speeds it tells me I have not achieved since I was 20, and now I am virtually 3 times 20 old! I contact pedi Polar and got a very slapdash answer how I could manually adapt it. That is why you have a sports watch, to keep the manual coniptions out of the equation. The way I see it is that it has a standard stride length in the algorithm that estimates distance, and therefore speed, from the wrist movement. Now if my stride is much shorter than the stride length in the algorithm, it will explain the hopelessly wrong data. It follows therefor that you should be able to feed in an average stride length before making this feature to work. Now I sincerely hope Polar can address this issue, or learn their tech people not to be dismissive of ligitimate questions. And I do hope that if the M430 has this feature, it is a better version, or at least that you can disengage it.
It’s actually based off of an internal accelerometer, if I am not mistaken, but I agree that it doesn’t track me properly which is why I pair a stride sensor with my m400 when I run on the treadmill. That being said, I’ve spoke to someone from Polar who said they are working on the algorithm to actually calibrate the accelerometer with GPS, which should help with accelerometer accuracy in the future, at least for the m430 (although I not sure if that’s something that will roll out soon or not for a while).
The V800 can retransmit the Bluetooth signal from my H7 to be picked up in Polar Club on an iPad.
Can the M430 retransmit the Bluetooth signal in the same way?
Hi, according to M430’s manual – it is capable to retransmit HR signal to another Bluetooth devices.
From USER MANUAL:
• Heart rate settings: Heart rate view: Choose Beats per minute (bpm) or % of maximum. Check HR zone
limits: Check the limits for each heart rate zone. HR visible to other device: Choose On or Off. If you
choose On, other compatible devices using Bluetooth Smart wireless technology, e.g. gym equipment,
can detect your heart rate. You can also use your M430 during Polar Club classes to broadcast your heart
rate to the Polar Club system.
Thank you for the prompt reply. Lesson taken is to download the free manual from Polar.
Now that this is available for sale I am down to choosing between the Garmin Vivoactive HR and the Polar M430 and I was about to order the Polar until I read about the lack of continuous HR tracking. You mention that this Polar “expects” this to be available in Q3…would that be via a software update?
I have been using a Fitibit Charge 2 for about 9 months and since I can upload this data to Garmin Connect that is a bonus, but I like the information in Polar Flow a bit more.
Continuous HR is one of my favorite Fitbit features since I have been able to watch my resting HR drop from the high 60s to low 50s over the past few months after I started running.
If you were given your choice of one of these devices for free which would you choose? Maybe the same question, but if you had a friend how had just started running and wanted to give them a gift (again at no cost to you) which would be in the box, the Polar M430 or Garmin Vivoactive HR?
Will there there be continuous heart rate? Like the new 370?
I have the same question. I also want to know what continuous heart rate exactly means. I could not tell the difference from the descriptions on the polar website.
Continous means it’s tracking heart rate throughout the day when not in a workout. The A370 tracks at approximately 5 minute intervals, unless it believes it’s in an activity like walking or running (automatic triggers), in which case it escalates to once per second.
The M430 is slated to get that functionality later this year in Q3/2017 (so anytime between August and October).
Hr monitoring all day.
I have make a mistake. It is just movement data. Not HR data. Sorry. We have to wait until fall.
You can see what it looks like within the video I just posted a minute or two ago, on the A370: link to youtu.be
I’m hoping with the addition to continuous heart rate we see an improved sleep plus tracking information where it’ll display resting heart rate as well as passive heart rate.
But I’m guessing the demand for it isn’t high. It’d be a nice feature.
It’ll show you resting HR – both for daytime and sleep, as well as 24×7 HR graphs you can drag your finger over (in the app) to any point in time.
Thanks DC Rainmaker for the reply.
I have looked all over and it seems Polar web, and Android app, does not display any sort of HR monitoring when asleep or during daytime.
As noted above, it won’t come to the M430 until fall. It’s on the A370 today though.
Do you expect that to be provided via a software update? I am ready to buy this now and wait for continuous HR provided that it can be installed later. I would be OK with continuing to use my Charge 2 for HR until then and wearing the M430 when running and other activities.
Their plan is to release a software update to all M430 units in Q3/2017 (so sometime before the end of September).
Thanks for the preview of this. I have a few questions: Is this touch screen or button interface? Does it have an always on screen? How many data fields do you get on each screens? Last Q: can you swap straps? I imagine some of the comments have answered these, but I have not read through all of them. Thanks.
4) No, but they offer three colors (orange/white/black).
Thanks Ray. One of the things I like about Polar Flow is that it will sync up with my Google calendar. Not sure if that feature matters to anyone, but I like it and wished that Garmin Connect would also sync with Google Calendar, Fit, etc… I somehow doubt that would happen. I demo’d the Polar M600 but sent it back due to, in my opinion, poor battery life. I went on a 2 hour hike with the screen always on and dropped 60% in battery life. That does not look like it will be the problem with the M430. Looks like I will try it out.
So I got my M430 yesterday as a birthday gift and the setup was generally smooth. However it would be great if there was a guide that explains all of the options available in the sport profiles. While some are obvious I am trying to figure out several and the user guide (available online) is not very helpful.
What do you think which watch is better buy Polar M430 for 175€ or Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR for 400€?
I will use watch mostly for running and occasionally for hiking. Thanx for advice.
If the Suunto isn’t too bulky (17,5mm instead of 12mm) and too heavy for your weist, then you get
– higher display resolution
– more data fields per screen if you want
– better battery power
– some multisport features
If you need this & if you want to pay for it – it’s up to you.
Which oHR is the better one could be nice to know, but I suppose this could be hard to say.
Thanx for feedback. I guess I will go for Polar,
If you are using the M430 not only for training but also for activity tracking 24/7, you should know that the M430 activity percentages are not at all compatible with older Polar devices. You will reach 100 percent with an M430 with about the same activity that an M400 will track as about 60 to 70 percent. So you will reach your activity goals ridiculously easy with an M430. What’s more, the displayed amounts of activity to reach 100 percent or about 10,000 steps are completely nonsense on an M430. The M430 is a great sports watch to monitor training sessions with the great wrist-based HRM & solid GPS. But when it comes to activity tracking, it’s in my point of view a bummer!
Alex, I’ve also found that the M430’s activity tracking is “generous”. I agree 100% on the M430 = around 70% on the M400. I thought it was something I’d not set properly but if you’re seeing the same, then the algorithm must be different or the sensors more sensitive. I’d be happy if it was updated to be more like the M400 as consistency across the data for me is really important.
I also had the M430 crash on me once just after an exercise session. I was returning to the watch face and it said it had to reset. It lost the activity percentage I’d just done (about 70%) for that activity but still recorded the exercise properly (distance, steps, heart rate etc). It also then recorded the second exercise session I did that day correctly too and synced OK, except the activity percentage was missing the 70% from the first exercise.
Vibration alerts are better than beeps in my mind but I do wish they were a little longer/stronger. The acknowledgment for syncing has great vibrations but notifications are much less noticable. If only we could adjust the length/strength.
Heart rate seems generally accurate to me but I haven’t tried HIIT yet. I use the chest strap for “real” workouts and the watch-based heart for everything else.
Graham, Polar published a short article about “Activity accumulation differences between M430 and other Polar devices”. As links are not allowed here, just google the words between the “..”, then you will find it. Hope that this will be useful for you and for prospective buyers.
No issues with links here.
I guess POLAR revised algorithms of motion detection and may be implemented a more sensitive accelerometers inside M430 and A370 devices. This gives us a new advanced sleep analysis but the downside is – faster activity goal accomplishment.
As I eluded to in my last few posts, I have been doing side by side testing (I always do this when using a new device), and so far they’re both fairly close.
Your observation of the activity percentages is correct, but the difference in calories burned is moot. So, even if Polar has changed algorithms related to activity percentages, however they calculate the number of calories burned hasn’t changed from what I’ve observed.
I’ve done a side by side weight lifting workout, and the calories matched up well. The actual heart rate was somewhat off due to the nature of lifting and optical heart rate sensors. But what I do to “normalize”/”calibrate” the data, is for each one I wait until after the set is finished and my heart begins declining to pause the watches. I also only track the activity when actually lifting, not during rest.
The two days I’ve tracked were very close (within 100 calories or so), and the run I went on matched up perfectly in every way (cadence, avg./max heart rate/calories burned) except for distance, which was off by about 0.1 miles, not too shabby. This also threw off my pace slightly.
The steps were way off though, and I think this had more to do with wrist I had the watches on. My right hand tends to record more steps, I also use it for dish washing…etc. which tracks that as steps. Moreover, I have the app set to my left wrist, so it may throw off the reading if wearing a watch on the right.
Regardless, none of this seemed to matter in terms of calories burned. I’ll do another side by side lifting today (leg workout this time as opposed to a back workout, which has more grip involved obviously), and then another full day including a run next week.
Thanks Alex. Just read it. Seems like calorie accuracy has resulted in higher activity levels and I now need to set myself up as a higher level athlete than I would really consider myself to be so that I’m sufficiently challenged. Seems an odd way to do it… Or maybe I should take it more easy and accept that I’m doing enough even though I’m not feeling like it is. Or I can ignore all of the arbitrary figures ‘activity’ measures and say 150% is my norm. Not sure which way I’ll go yet but it highlights how (if you want/need/like) these figures can affect how much exercise you do. Who’s right?
Maybe the correct way of approaching this is exactly giving kudos to yourself on being a better athlete than you thought you were? 🙂
That said, it would be great from polar to somehow ‘normalize’ the data from your older devices to have a consistent data set even if you have upgraded to M430 or A370 (just throwing that out not knowing if that would even be possible to do from backend)
since links are fine, here’s the short description from Polar: link to support.polar.com
Does anyone know if there’s a way to upload data from your M400 and your M430 from the same day?
I bought the M430 (so far so good!) and I’ve been doing comparisons to my M400. For now I’ve manually recorded the data myself, but when I tried to sync it to my app it said the M400 wasn’t paired, and the app kept asking to sync the M430.
Thanks in advance!
Hi Jon. You can do it easily through the flow app. Just pair both devices and then sync one of them and when it’s completed successfully, change to the other device (swipe left or right on the device screen) and then sync again. The second device now has both sets of data so you’d need to return to the first one again and resync and then both will be up to date. I have only done this with the current day’s data so I don’t know how it works with previous days, that’s my only concern. But otherwise, it works fine and updates each device with the total data.
Sounds a bit confusing with all the swiping and switching between devices, but I might give this a whirl later.
My main concern is not effecting my main watch’s data (the 430 most likely now). And also being able to have both sets of data from the same run for example, on Polar Flow to compare and contrast. One of my days was a few days ago, so maybe that won’t load?
Not sure about 2 sets of data for the same run. I haven’t tried it so someone else will need to advise. As they’ll be synced to the same time in flow, it could cause problems.
I just got this watch. To sync with your phone, you have to press and hold (unclear for how long, as I have tried different lengths of time), the bottom left button. In a day or so of ownership, it’s taking multiple attempts(sometimes as many as 10) to sync it just once. Did I just get a defective unit here? I’ve also noted some inconsistent GPS readings around an area where I usually walk. I never had these issues with my Garmin VAHR. Is anyone having these issues? Thanks.
I saw something like that early on in the beta, but not since (no change in hardware, just software updates). Try deleting and re-pairing the BT connection.
Ok. I will give it a shot and see if it works. Thanks.
I did not know about the left bottom button for syncing. I held it now for approx 3 sec and the watch synced with phone, not problems at all. I have iphone 7 plus.
Sync to my android phone works fine, but I have a problem with my iPad. It only seems to update when I remove and reinstall the Flow app.
Also in the iPad app the icon (bar chart) for reviewing an activity such as a run does not seem to work until I reinstall the app.
When I press the sync button on the watch I see an icon on my phone but nothing on the iPad.
I re-paired yesterday. It synced this morning. This afternoon, I tried numerous time with no success. I turned Bluetooth on and off several times. I was getting a “Connection failed. No paired devices nearby” message. I even put on my Garmin VAHR just to see if the Bluetooth was working and it worked fine. I finally powered my phone off and on and it synced then. It should not be this much effort to sync the Watch. I may have gotten a defective one.
Anyone switched from m600 to m430? How does the m430 compare to an m600? I currently use the m600.
That is what I have done. This is what I think so far: The 430 is much more comfortable to wear. I really like the always on screen and battery life. However, see my comments above about the Bluetooth connection. I did not have any connection issues with the M600. Also, social media notifications are almost nonexistent with the 430. I disabled them since they were awful.
“Social media almost non-existance” = almost perfect running watch 😉
Thanks for the review!
The setting for GPS accuracy is interesting, because my M400 isn’t powerful enough for long workouts. Do you think that the medium GPS setting will work for high speed sports like cycling and inline-skating? It seems to me that a 30 second interval could be problematic. Would it make an estimation (on the map) of the route I’ve been cycling/skating?
What exactly is a “long workout” where your M400 doesn’t have the power (do you mean battery life).
How long are you in-line skating for? I have recorded more than 6 hrs of downhill skiing in a day with out running out of battery.
My M400 routinely hits low battery after 5-6 hours of backpacking/hiking. I suppose the difference between this and downhill skiing would be that for downhill, the device generally will have a less obstructed view of the satellites. This is the main complaint I have for the M400 and would like to see one of the GPS battery-save modes be 5-seconds rather than 1, 30, and 60.
GPS Battery save would be more appropriate for these three settings:
What activity do you only care about recording position every 60 seconds, the turtle crawl?
If you have the device in one of the battery save settings, does the distance shown/recorded reflect the setting or actual? Eg., if set to “Power save – long session”, does the activity’s distance continually update as usual or only update every 60 seconds? If the unit is only recording points every 60 seconds, it would be expected that the total activity distance could be significantly shorter (by 5-10%) than actual since between 60 second points, many twists and turns of a route would not get recorded.
Can the GPS battery save setting be changed in the middle of an activity (or even when paused in an activity)? I’ve had times with the M400 when recording a full day’s hike and knowing the battery would die that I wished I could change the setting to try to prolong battery life.
Can you customize the data shown on the Paused Activity display? That’s been a desire I’ve had with the M400: shows time, current HR, calories, and distance. I pay no attention to calories and would prefer to customize this like in progress screens can be customized.
Another desired feature would be to expose the current GPS coordinates. The data is in there, just show it to the user – let the user add it to the customized screens.
I’ve asked these exact same questions in a Facebook chat with a Polar employee and she assured me that for high speed sports 30 seconds interval GPS recording will still work. However, how it works exactly she couldn’t tell and I agree with you: it can’t be accurate. She obviously wasn’t really informed well enough. A customizable accuracy per sport would be a better idea.
After having read through the M430 manual, some questions are answered:
1) Can the GPS battery save setting be changed in the middle of an activity (or even when paused in an activity)? Per manual, GPS recording interval can be changed via Quick Menu in Pause Mode (pg 32).
2) GPS location? GPS location can be shown via Quick Menu in Training View (pg 32). However, when I want to know exactly where I am, I have usually stopped moving and paused the activity, so it would be helpful to offer “Current location info” from Quick Menu in Pause Mode. Allow customizing the units of the GPS location (make UTM an option) would be a bonus.
3) When in GPS medium accuracy or power save, how is distance handled both real-time and recorded with activity? Is distance accuracy a combination of detected strides and GPS when in one of the battery save modes? Is total distance of activity based on GPS points recorded?
4) Can you customize the data shown on the screen in Pause Mode?
My Garmin 220 is showing signs of the battery starting to fail and I am looking to upgrade. This watch seems to fit the bill for my running.
I was wondering if people think it’s a good move to buy this model now or hold off for as long as the watch I have now will last if something from garmin is going to be released soon to compete.
I own the M430 from yesterday. So far so good.
Just did a small test – making an exercise and simultaneously charging the watch from a small battery bank – works like charm!
I wear a H7 chest strap for the heart rate during the test .
So for endurance events – charging on the fly is a possible, not so convenient (be aware of damaging the charging port or cable) but possible.
Any idea if we could excpect a price drop in the next days…?
Or any promo seen?
Here in Belgium I only saw Watch (229€) + free bag at Ace Adventure
Hi all. Just got m430 ($270) black only (limited stock SE Asia). Ran around & burpies in shop (must have looked crazy). No sync or HR issues but HR increase and decrease is ALOT slower than my basis peak (had peak on left wrist & m430 synced/on right wrist. Once it caught up the HR was near identical. Will be interested to see interval training on crosstrainer (probably the same).
I have had problems syncing my M430 to my Android phone, and have discovered that the app “forgets” which device it was last connected to after a few hours – no device will be selected in the device sreen in the app. I have to open the app before every sync, and see if it tells me to press the sync button on the M430. Most times there will be no message, and I have to go into the device screen, swipe to the M430 and tap the cirkle to select it. Then sync works fine. This never happened with my M400. Has anyone else seen the same? And found a way to fix it?
I was the one posting above about the bluetooth problems. I do have an android phone. After being on the phone with Polar for several days and going through several factory resets of the watch, I just gave up. I returned the watch. Mine was also having some unusual results in that I could not get a proper sleep calculation the couple of times I tried it. There could be some issue with android. The times that I could pair it I had to go into the bluetooth settings, turn it on and off and things like that. It was a disappointment to me to have those kinds of technical issues.
When door you expert an indept review?
Very looking forward to it 🙂
Within the next 36hrs.
My new m430 has already forgotten the paired phone 2 mornings so far. Eventually had to unpair both- from the phone & from the watch. Considering the HR doesn’t start automatically when doing activity it’s amazing that I can achieve 100% daily activity just walking to the shops & back (as mentioned in other comments). Hopefully the software update will improve functioning
I might hold off a little longer. After a week of waiting, got this back from Polar on FB earlier.
They’re confused. My communications with the product lead as well as segment owner both confirmed Q3, as has other media with Polar.
Many thanks for your great reviews and testing of products!
I am about to buy my first GPS watch (I run and bike) and I have a hard time deciding between a Polar M430 and Garmin Forerunner 235. I’ve tried both and on my wrist the Garmin FR235 was definitively more comfortable which I guess is quite important. However, the FR235 launched in 2015 and I’m thinking that it is smarter getting a fully new product with the M430. Does the Garmin FR235 still hold up? Or is its hardware getting ‘old’?
Any advice from anyone who has used both brands?
Many thanks for whatever help you have the time to give!
The functionality will be reasonably similar so go with the watch that looks and feels the best.
Any 3rd party sensors (e.g. bike sensors) will need to be Bluetooth for Polar or Ant+ for Garmin.
A lot of people have trouble syncing Polar watch with mobile phone, not sure about Garmin as much since some of the watches (not 235) also have wifi sync.
Also consider the look and feel of the Polar and Garmin websites and what data you would like to sync to other services. e.g. Strava, Fitbit etc.
Many thanks for your input!
My first “proper” GPS watch was the Polar M400 with the H7 chest band. Earlier this year I got an FR235, attracted by the idea of having a wrist HR watch. The FR235 is a very nice watch, and comfortable to wear – better than the Polar. Having the ConnectIQ platform is also a plus, as I really liked some of the data fields/apps that I tried.
However, I was disappointed with the Garmin Connect website, which gives out much less running/performance information and data than Polar Flow. I also missed the detailed lap information given by the Polar M400 (either for automatic or manual laps). From reading Ray’s reviews, I think higher end Garmin watches may give more lap info than the FR235.
Although it was nice not depending on the chest band, I realised that the wrist HR is still not good enough for short or long intervals. In the short ones, the HR lags (both ramping up and down) and on the long ones the HR would frequently either come down mid-interval or go up to match my cadence. (It goes without saying that I do know how to wear a wrist HR watch, i.e. above the wrist bone and tight.)
So I realized that what I needed was to have a wrist-HR watch for the easy/long run days, that I could then couple with a chest band for the interval workouts. Because of the platform/lap info issues I noted earlier, I decided that I would rather go back to Polar and I got the M430 a week or so ago, and have used it in 3 or 4 runs. I wore the Polar M400 + H7 in two interval workouts to compare. I sold the FR235 a while ago, so I can’t compare them directly. However, I will try to sum up my views on FR235 vs M430 to directly address your question.
– The FR235 is more comfortable to wear than the M430. Probably better looking as well.
– As noted earlier, the M430 gives more lap info (same as M400) and I prefer the Polar Flow platform.
– The wrist HR accuracy seems to be similar in the M430 and FR235, although I didn’t compare directly. But at easy paces they both tracked perfectly with the H7 chest band, and then lag behind when abruptly speeding up or slowing down. Interestingly, when doing mile repeats yesterday the M430 HR “dropped out” on the 5th repeat from the correct 170-ish to 140-ish. This is exactly what I used to experience with the FR235, although I should note that I tighten it one more stop and it then tracked perfectly on the last repeat. So far I did not experience the M430 locking on my cadence. So I would say that with regards to wrist HR the M430 is at least as good as the FR235.
– The FR235 GPS was much better than the Polar M400, but I have the feeling that the M430 is better than the M400 too. Yesterday (after a software update that was supposed to improve A-GPS) it was better around my usual park loop and did better on the track as well. Earlier this week it did ok around narrow streets in Florence, and when running in the open in a big park it really excelled. As I said, I don’t have the FR235 anymore to compare directly, but I think they must be close. I am actually looking forward to Ray’s in-depth review to see what he made of it.
So in summary, I cannot say that the M430 is significantly better than the FR235 on key aspects like GPS and HR, despite being more recent. But it probably is at least as good, and I prefer it because of the lap info and software platform. Hope this helps and if you have any more questions just ask.
PS – I never had issues syncing the M400 or M430 with my iPhone 5S via bluetooth.
Thank you for your insigths! After reading comments and the full review of M430 I will give Polar a go. I think thw watch functionality with regards to ‘personal trainer’ and the platform Flow will suit my needs better even though the FR235 is a little easier on the eye 🙂 but hey, we don’t always have to look our best when exercising! 😉
Hello nice people,
I made a traning view on M430 to show Stride length an Average stride length. They both show 0 during my runs. Do I need to have a stride sensor to see this value? It is not mentioned in the manual.
Have a nice day!
I thought the sync issues had cleared up but after app update & watch firmware update they are much worse. Unpaired & re-paired the watch & phone/app but no success. They find one another & sync but the watch says completed after less than 1 second! No data is exchanged
I wonder if this is an android issue. I have an android phone and returned the watch primarily over this issue. I was also getting subpar GPS readouts as well as inaccurate syncs with Google Fit.
I awaiting reply from Polar support. Restarting watch hasn’t worked.
Great idea John. I got my other android phone out (OnePlus 2) installed app and on the 3rd go it finally paired. Synced immediately & after 2 minutes everything updated
I you got something out of it, that is great. The full review of this is out. Not sure why Ray has not mentioned that. He did not mention anything about the sync issues in the full review.
Just commented on your question in the comments section. I didn’t cover the sync issues because I’m not seeing them for myself on iOS. I’m kinda an iPhone guy, so it’s just what I happen to use.
Just a quick note in case folks didn’t notice the full Polar M430 in-depth review is now available here: link to dcrainmaker.com
As is usually the case I close comments to these older preview posts, merely to keep things tidy. Of course, absolutely continue the discussion over on the full review post. Just helps minimize confusion a bit for new folks arriving.
Thanks again for reading!